Today I am starting a new posting called, “Longo’s Logic”. In it, I am going to be portraying my thoughts as to how the Minnesota Twins should act regarding players, free agency, trades, management, and any other organizational aspect. Also, all of my articles are geared towards you, the reader, so in order to better interact with my readers I pose a challenge for anyone who would like to participate. If you have subject that YOU would like to either receive the answer to or read my thoughts on the matter, please leave your topic or question in the comment section of any “Longo’s Logic” article. If there is enough participation, I will start a “Viewer Thoughts”-style posting weekly to accommodate any and all comments. Thank you for your support to FanSided.com, Puckett’s Pond, and myself!
A team’s fan base is a strong indicator of how an organization is doing and what direction a team is heading. The more support a team garners from their fans, the more revenues and financial cap an organization has to work with in adding improvements to a stadium or bringing in sought after players. Take the Minnesota Twins for example, in 2002 the Twins were a team targeted by Major League Baseball to be contracted, or eliminated as a franchise. However, after multiple playoff seasons in the 2000s and an increased fan base dedication, the organization righted the ship and was able to build Target Field with the new added revenues fans were bringing in. This example lends the notion that fan support and their opinions of a team really make a difference in future steps an organization takes. In this, the first edition of Longo’s Logic, I will be playing the part of a fan and putting forth my two cents while playing the “General Manager for a day” role.
As we all know, the Twins are in desperate need of pitching. An improvement here would give the best American League Central and 13th overall ranked offense (WAR ranking) a chance to succeed throughout the 2013 campaign. One can point fingers and blame a multitude of injuries, a few missed calls, or running into the wrong teams at the wrong time as a reason for a failed season. But the fact still remains, at times the Twins pitching staff looked like a Little League 12-year-old throwing batting practice at the All-Star game.
The only bright spot was Scott Diamond, posting a 12-9 record and an above average 3.54 earned run average. Despite those numbers demolishing any other starter the Twins had this year, they were not good enough to consider Diamond an “ace” of the staff by any means. What is scary about his 3.54 ERA, is in his last 10 starts his ERA inflated over half a point from a once stingy 2.97. His ERA was 4.85 during that ten game stretch, and five of those were against AL Central foe. Clearly, Diamond is not quite the “ace” the Twins so desperately covet at the top of the rotation. However, this year’s free agent pool is blossoming with starting pitching that could immediately impact the pitching deprived Twins.
- Bullpen: Currently, the Twins are expecting to keep the majority of their bullpen together. All the pieces are there for them to be successful if the starters can eat up some innings. Long-relief duties will undoubtedly fall on the shoulders of Brian Duensing and probably Anthony Swarzak again. Alex Burnett and Tyler Robertson will take on more circumstantial roles along with 2012 surprises Casey Fien and Kyle Waldrop. Then the 8th and 9th inning combination of Jared Burton and Glen Perkins will solidify the back end of the bullpen.
- Starters: The starting pitching is another story. I would like to see Scott Diamond be a no. 1 for the Twins, but he is more of a tough no.2 or no.3 in the rotation kind of guy. Newcomers P. J. Walters and Samuel Deduno definitely will be possibilities coming out of Spring Training as the 5th pitcher in the rotation, with all likelihood the nod going to Deduno. Despite Liam Hendriks‘ poor 1-8 record, he showed glimpses of success and battled tough against other team’s stud pitchers, (9IP, 3 H, 6 SO) such as Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. In my opinion, Hendriks gets the 4th slot in the rotation based on potential and the fact he is only 23. That leaves two open spots in my rotation: a number one guy and a number two or three complimentary to Diamond.
Sadly, I do not believe the Minnesota Twins have an “ace” or another solid no. 2 kind of guy in their system who is ready for the big leagues. One option, Kyle Gibson, suffered an injury in 2011 which delayed is projected quick ascent through the minor league system. I am assuming he will be starting the season in Rochester for more Triple-A starts before making the jump to the Majors later in the year. That leaves us to rely on free agency to obtain one or more top end rotation talent. With the Twins likely to rid themselves of nearly $30 million in their payroll, (List of potential free agents) that should leave them with plenty of money to spend on any number of the possible starters entering free agency.
- Aces: There are two, maybe three clear-cut “aces” in this year’s free agency pool. Zack Greinke is by far the best option, but the Twins will not win a bidding war for the talented pitcher, so he is out. Jake Peavy is a name Twins’ fans have grown accustom to over the past few years during his tenure with the Chicago White Sox. What is intriguing about Peavy is despite his average velocity not being what it used to be, (mid-high 90s to a low 90s) his pitch movement is insane. If he keeps the ball low and in the strike zone, swings and misses are abundant, considering his 48.5% swing and miss ratio which put him no. 5 in the American League for pitchers. Peavy is still good and, at age 31, young enough to put in a serious investment towards him. Another name that is exciting in the market is James Shields, who is also not likely to be re-signed by the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Shields is an inning eater of late, pitching in well over 200 innings every season since 2007. He struck out 223 batters compared to only 58 walks last year, which fits him in to the Twins style of pitching. Shields controls the strike zone and fixes the Twins desperate need for a strikeout pitcher.
- Second-Tier: If the Twins can acquire one of the top-tier pitchers I mention above, the need for a second-tier type pitcher lessens considerably. However, if Terry Ryan and staff believe they either need another pitcher or do not receive one of the a fore mentioned “aces”, there are a multitude of no. 2 starters left in the free agent pool. A few I like are Brandon McCarthy, Scott Baker, who is still up for a club option for next season ($9.25 million), and even ex-Twin, Kyle Lohse. McCarthy is an interesting player. He was struck in the face with a line-drive which sidelined him for a couple months with an injury. Despite his shortened season, I believe McCarthy showed enough of his abilities for the Twins to take a shot on him. An ERA of 3.24 last season is safe and would be an excellent right-handed compliment to what Scott Diamond brings to a rotation.
- Scott Baker could also be an interesting choice to entertain as an answer for starting pitching. The Twins have no business offering him his club option of $9.25 million after missing all of the season with Tommy John surgery, but because of the injury, negotiating with Baker is a little scary and the Twins should be mindful of how he is progressing. If the Twins could somehow land him for a 1 or 2 year contract being under $2 million per year, the risk is definitely worth the reward. When Baker is on, he can be quite efficient. He has shown the ability to compete at the Major League level by posting a career record of 63-48 in 163 games. Also, if he signs a one year deal with the Twins and does not perform well, then the team can cut their losses and move on without hurting the pocket book much.
All of this information sounds like a fantasy for the Minnesota Twins who are often quiet during the Winter Meetings and free agent market, but that is exactly what this is, a fantasy. These are my thoughts concerning what I think the Twins need to consider when deciding on who is worthwhile for the bungling organization. Here is my final verdict as acting General Manager:
- Sign James Shields or Jake Peavy: Both are 31 and have plenty of life in their arms, but more importantly, they both know how to win.
- Sign Brandon McCarthy or Scott Baker (if the price is right for Baker): Neither of these pitchers are genuine “aces”; however, sometimes a team can be effective with 3 or 4 second-tier starters in their rotation.
- Keep Kyle Gibson in Triple-A for a few starts to begin the upcoming season. The last thing a rookie needs after recovering from a surgery is the pressures of playing up in the big leagues to start a season. Let him and his arm adjust to a 5-day pitching rotation and see when, where, or if he is needed to sure up the Twins pitching staff throughout the season.
- Samuel Deduno, Liam Hendriks, or P. J. Walters: Pick one, maybe two. Hopefully with the signings of one or two of the previously mentioned pitchers (see step 1 and 2) the Twins will only have to pick one of these three. My money is on Hendriks, but that is the fan coming out in me. I would love to hear some “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oye! Oye! Oye!” chants after striking batters out.
Who knows what the Twins have in store for themselves or their fans this offseason. If I get my wishes as acting General Manager, the Twins remain solid offensively with the position players they currently have on the roster and the pitching rotation would look a little something like this:
- Jake Peavy (The Bulldog)
- Scott Diamond (The Craftsman)
- Brandon McCarthy (Tree..standing 6ft. 7in.)
- Liam Hendriks (The Aussie)
- Samuel Deduno (Sick Nasty)…hopefully turning into Kyle Gibson (The Worm Killer; he produces a ton of ground ball outs)